Sports\Team China

China targeting titles in London

China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-04 09:16

Shot put, race walk, sprints could yield podium results

LONDON - Team China could win three titles at the Aug 413 World Athletics Championships, while its athletes also hope to make an impression in the marquee 100m and the 4x100 relay.

Shot put has been a very minor sport in China, but here it might well bring golden glory for the country, with 2012 Olympic Games silver medalist Gong Lijiao gunning for her first major triumph.

The shot put is slated for Aug 9, and Gong clearly stands a good chance. With archrivals reigning champion Christina Schwanitz and four-time champion Valerie Adams both skipping the worlds, the 28-year-old has become the hot favorite.

The men's and women's 20km race walk might also turn out to be exciting events for the Chinese, although Rio Olympic gold medalist Wang Zhen and silver medal winner Cai Zelin will not compete in the men's event, making way for young star Wang Kaihua, who was on the substitute roster in Rio.

With a world-leading best time of 1:17:54 set in March, the 23-year-old Wang is considered a title hopeful despite limited experience in major competitions.

For the first time since 2007, Liu Hong will be missing from the women's 20km walk at the worlds. The 30-year-old, who won gold at the 2015 Beijing worlds and last year's Olympics, has been replaced by Rio bronze medalist Lyu Xiuzhi, while Wang Na and Yang Jiayu add more depth of the Chinese contingent.

Spotlight on sprinters

The men's 100m will be another star event to watch, not just because world record holder Usain Bolt of Jamaica has promised to be "unbeatable" at his London swan song.

Chinese fans are eager to know whether Su Bingtian will once again make it to the final as he did two years ago in Beijing - a groundbreaking achievement in the nation's sports history.

Su will also fight for a podium finish with his teammates in the 4x100m relay, hoping to duplicate their silver success two years ago in Beijing.

"We stand a good chance of setting a new national record here in London," said Zhang Peimeng, who runs the anchor leg for China.

Proved their worth

"Our second and third legs - Su Bingtian and Xie Zhenye - are both in their best form this season. If (starting leg) Wu Zhiqiang and I can sprint to our best level, a new national record is possible."

The quartet proved their worth at the IAAF Diamond League in Monaco two weeks ago when they registered a winning time of 38.19sec - just 0.37sec shy of the national record set by Su, Xie, Zhang and Tang Xingqiang as the first baton at the Rio Olympics.

"We won a history-making silver medal two years ago in Beijing, but we know it will be quite hard to make a further breakthrough in London. We will be happy to win any medal," Zhang said.

Meanwhile, 18-year-old Chinese long jumper Shi Yuhao has expressed confidence in reaching the final after notching an Asian youth record of 8.30m at the National Youth Athletics Championships last June.

Shi bettered that mark by a hundredth of a meter two months ago - the world's seventh best distance this year.

In rainy weather this week, Shi completed his first pregame training just outside of London Stadium, which is the competition venue, but attached greater importance to himself than to the wet weather.

"An athlete should adapt to all kinds of weather, and I don't think that the weather will have too much impact on me," he said.

Looking forward to his first appearance at the worlds, Shi said he was "excited" to embrace it and hoped for a good start.

"I have been preparing for the world championships since early this year, and aim at a personal best here in London," he added.

Competing alongside Wang Jia'nan and Huang Changzhou, Shi said being the youngest of all Team China athletes might be a bit daunting.

"My age will pose some problems for me to keep a cool mind, but it's also an advantage," said Shi. "I will fight for a berth among eight finalists, and then try as hard as I can."


(China Daily 08/04/2017 page23)

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